Now dieting in pregnancy is good for you

Study finds losing weight benefits mother and child, overturning decades of advice

Eating for two should be a thing of the past for pregnant women after research suggested that dieting during pregnancy could reduce complications for women and lead to healthier babies.

The risks of pre-eclampsia – which causes high blood pressure – diabetes and premature birth can all be reduced if the mother-to-be sticks to a healthy, calorie-controlled diet, the study published on bmj.com found.

In contrast, excessive weight gain in pregnancy was linked to a number of serious health problems. In the UK, more than half of women of reproductive age are said to be overweight or obese.

Up to 40 per cent of women gain more than the recommended amount of weight in pregnancy. Half the women in the UK who die during pregnancy, in childbirth or shortly after the birth are obese or overweight. Maternal obesity also increases the risk that the baby will become obese as a child.

The researchers who carried out the study, from Queen Mary, University of London, found that diet and exercise were effective in reducing weight gain in the mother. Dietary intervention produced the biggest average reduction in weight gain (almost 4kg) compared with 0.7kg for exercise and 1kg for a combination of the two.

Diet was also better at preventing pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes and premature birth, the study found.

The researchers analysed the results of 44 randomised controlled trials involving more than 7,000 women. Experts at St Thomas' Hospital in London suggested there was not yet enough evidence to support any particular intervention. Lucilla Poston, director of the maternal and fetal research unit, and Lucy Chappell, clinical senior lecturer in maternal and foetal medicine, said it would be "premature" for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to reassess its guidelines, which do not advise regular weighing of pregnant women.

Jane Brewin, head of the pregnancy research charity Tommy's, said: "As part of our work to educate women on the best lifestyle choices during pregnancy, we welcome this study and believe that there is growing evidence to re-evaluate current guidelines for weight management during pregnancy."

Dr Janine Stockdale, a research fellow at the Royal College of Midwives, also hailed the research, adding: "The researchers are not advising women to lose weight during pregnancy; this is about managing excessive weight or weight gain. If a woman is on target to gain the right amount of weight during her pregnancy, then 'dieting' and 'calorie controlled dieting' as we commonly understand [them], is not for her."

Doctor's orders: Pregnancy advice through the years

Alcohol

Pregnant women were once permitted, even encouraged, to drink alcohol by their doctors. Well into the 20th century, alcohol was viewed as an all-purpose remedy that soothed and fortified pregnant women.

In 1973 researchers at the University of Washington identified foetal alcohol syndrome, which affects the way the baby's brain develops, weakens its immune system and damages its organs. And in 1981 the Surgeon General of the United States warned pregnant women against the dangers of alcoholic drinks.

In May 2007, the Department of Health urged women to abstain completely from alcohol during pregnancy. The National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence, advises women not to drink any alcohol in the first three months because it can increase the risk of miscarriage.

Women are advised that if they choose to drink alcohol while they are pregnant they should consume no more than two UK units once or twice a week.

Smoking

Women began to smoke cigarettes in the 1920s, but did not smoke in large numbers until after the Second World War. The link between smoking and lung cancer was not established until 1956, when the British Doctors Study provided convincing statistical proof that tobacco smoking increased the risk of lung cancer. Pregnant women are advised not to smoke.

Peanuts

In August 2009, following a major review, the Government advised that there was no clear reason for pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid peanuts unless they had an allergy. Previously they had been warned to avoid peanuts if there was a history of allergy in the child's immediate family.

Weight

Pregnant women were weighed at every check-up from the 1950s to the mid-1990s. This was dropped after evidence that weighing did not help to identify women at risk of pre-eclampsia

Sarah Cassidy

40%

Proportion of women who gain more weight than recommended in pregnancy.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker